Students welcome first class of new semester under cloud of COVID resurgences
Published: Sep 01, 2022 08:57 PM
Four children take a group photo in a kindergarten in Heihe, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on September 1, 2022, the opening day of the new semester. Photo: CFP

Four children take a group photo in a kindergarten in Heihe, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on September 1, 2022, the opening day of the new semester. Photo: CFP

 Chinese students welcomed their first class of the new semester on Thursday with careful epidemic prevention measures in place amid extensive COVID-19 resurgences in multiple places, as the Chinese mainland on Wednesday registered 307 domestically transmitted cases across 17 provincial-level regions and 1,595 silent carriers in 21 provincial-level regions.

At the front gate of the Hujialou Center Primary School in Chaoyang district, students with their masks on went through a tent where an automatic thermodetector took their temperatures before they entered the teaching building. There were teachers and school staff standing near the gate to welcome students back and remind them to properly wear their masks.

To meet the requirement that all family members of a student should test negative 48 hours before the student returns to campus, parents and grandparents formed long lines in front of testing booths on Beijing streets in the past two days.

For safe operations throughout the new semester, a mother surnamed Sun said her child will be tested twice a week after school starts but family members are no longer asked to submit test results routinely. 

Some epidemic-hit cities postponed the start of the new semester or opted to hold the back-to-school ceremony and classes online, including North China's Tianjin, which neighbors Beijing, Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan and Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning. 

The megacity of Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province has introduced tailored policies for different districts. Except for several schools and kindergartens located in the areas with infection risks in Haizhu district, most schools resumed classes as scheduled.

Students and teachers are required to have a negative test within 48 hours to return, and both will take regular tests after the new term starts. Gatherings are controlled and massive gatherings are prohibited, according to a local press briefing on Thursday about back-to-school arrangements. 

Shijiazhuang, provincial capital of Hebei which neighbors Beijing, also postponed the return to school as the city of 11 million is under static management. A staffer from a junior high school in Shijiazhuang said they were not informed about arranging online classes, as the network and equipment are insufficient to support effective online teaching. 

Despite the ongoing epidemic prevention measures, excitement, expectations and sometimes reluctance to leave home remained the "background music" of Day One of the new semester. 

A fourth-grader told the Global Times that he can't wait to see his friends after two months apart and looks forward to the new semester. 

The mother surnamed Sun said that she has mixed feelings and is a little bit worried, as it is the first school day for her first-grade daughter. "She held my hand tightly at the gate and didn't let me go until it was really late," the mother said. 

Sitting in a classroom or in front of a screen at home, students maintained the tradition of watching "First Class for New Semester," a show produced by China Central Television (CCTV) and the Ministry of Education.

Lecturers included shipborne pilot Dai Xing, and taikonauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, Cai Xuzhe and Wang Yaping. Winter Olympics gold medal winner Xu Mengtao and Asian elephant protector Chen Jiming also appeared. August 1 medalists Qian Qihu, an 85-year-old defense expert and Du Fuguo, a mine-clearing hero, sent their wishes to the students through the program.